20 fantastic things to do in Abu Dhabi this long Eid weekend
The Capital’s celebrations always hit hard…
We’re not quite there yet, but with the holidays for public and private sectors already announced, we can start getting excited and maybe even indulge in a spot of light planning. Whether you’re off nine, five, two or zero days, these remain some of the very best things to do in Abu Dhabi this long Eid weekend.
Friday, April 29
New at the cinema this weekend
There are few imaginary realms as rich. immersive and profoundly considered as that of the Wizarding World. And that is true of this movie, despite it suffering from a case of the cursed middle child syndrome. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, is the third film of what we now know will be a five part series, and because there is no resolution, no suspicious end of term Hogwarts House Point tabulation, you end up walking away from the screen with a sense that this movie is at its core, a narrative bridge between what has gone and what is still to be. But if you’re willing to perform a small cognitive chant of Wingardium Leviosa — and rise above the plot limitations, there’s plenty of charm, and a wizard’s sleeve full of Potter-esque magic to love about the movie.
Take a Dhs15 tumble inside this mall
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Located on level three of WTC Mall’s The Hub – you can gain entrance to what might just be the cheapest thrill ride in the city, a pair of slides that make up the attraction called: Velocity. It only lasts a few seconds, but don’t judge — at Dhs15 (or Dhs35 for two goes and camera rental) — for a stylish tumble down a four storey drop, you really can’t go wrong.
World Trade Centre Mall Abu Dhabi, 10am to 10pm, from Dhs15. @wtcad
Mi Qasr su Qasr
The grand ‘Palace of the Nation’, Qasr Al Watan lies at one end of the city’s main Corniche, caught between the unyielding blues of the Arabian Gulf and the chasm of skyscrapers that define the city’s skyline. It is by all measures a newcomer on the UAE’s heritage scene, having opened its ornate doors to the public in 2019, but it already commands a place amonst its most precious cultural gems. Entry to the attractions is just Dhs6o and contained within its white granite walls, you’ll find a blend of educational and inspirational experiences — architectural masterwork; a library with storey-high book shelves; the great hall; the seat of the UAE’s cabinet; a ‘house of knowledge’ learning hub; exhbits telling the story of the nation’s rich and nuanced history. There’s also a Palace in Motion Sound and Light show (adults Dhs25, kids Dhs12), which now takes place daily. An entertainment extravaganza that illuminates tales from the nation’s past, present and future.
Al Ras Al Akhdar, now open daily between 10am and 6.45pm Dhs60, kids Dhs30. Book on qasralwatan.ae
Onwards to adventure
Hit the target with the exceptionally good value Marriott Al Forsan ‘Adventurer Staycation’ package this Eid. Room rates start at just Dhs650 per night, include breakfast and the opportunity to go full Indiana Jones with two adventure activities such as karting, wakeboarding, horse riding and archery. Other activities include paintballing, laser sim, and clay shooting. And of course there’s the standard access to the resort’s Olympic-sized swimming pool, six restaurants and bars, and fitness centre too.
Al Forsan International Sports Resort Khalifa City A – 12th St. Tel: (04) 201 4000, marriott.com
Saturday, April 30
Fall in Louvre with this art exhibition
Stories of Paper is Louvre Abu Dhabi’s second international exhibition of the year where visitors can discover an extensive variety of artistic expressions of the medium. Expect over 100 artworks and objects to be on display from 16 museums, cultural institutions and private collections. It includes books, manuscripts, drawings, a reproduction of a house and 13 contemporary artworks and installations – all made of paper. Visitors will also be able to enjoy a diverse public program of cultural activities.
Louvre Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, Tue to Sun 10am to 6.30pm, closed on Mon. Tel: (02) 6736 688. louvreabudhabi.ae
Staycays FT W
Come with an empty stomach – this hotel deal may make your waistlines heavier but your wallets lighter. Located on the family-friendly Yas Island, the five-star hotel is extending its impressive staycation deal until June 30. When you book yourself a room, you can get the full room rate back as credit on food and beverage. Use the promotional code SPU and start eating.
W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, F&B credit until June 30. Tel: (0)2 656 0000. marriott.com
Sunday, May 1
More than Oak-kay
This great British steakhouse has won more What’s On Awards, than Daniel Day-Lewis has Oscars — and that is no accident, it has culinary excellence running right through its marrow. And what better way to experience this UK ambassador, than through what might be old Blighty’s most mighty contribution to gastronomy, the Sunday roast. There’s hot smoked salmon, beef wellington, lamb pin wheel and roast rib of sirloin, and… yep ALL the trimmings.
The Abu Dhabi Edition, Sun three hours between 12.30pm and 5pm, from Dhs195. Tel: (02) 208 0000. @OakRoomAbuDhabi
Soft play, hard fun
Say bonjour to the second Abu Dhabi location of AirManiax right in the heart of the capital’s excitement hub, at Yas Mall. It’s a gigantic indoor kids’ entertainment megaplex arriving, mercifully, just in time for the return of summer heat. Located on the ground floor of the mall, next to the Grand Prix entrance, this intelligently designed adventure complex is now open and offers multiple themed zones and attractions for all age groups of kiddlywinks. .
Air Maniax Abu Dhabi is open now at Yas Mall, daily 10 am to midnight, prices from Dhs85 for 60 minutes. Tel: (02) 635 2544, airmaniax.booknow
Monday, May 2
Nothing says ‘special occasion’ quite as loudly and blindingly as a firework display, launching colourful missiles into the sky and watching the fractal ribbons paint the sky aglow. And it’s something Abu Dhabi has a PhD in. Expected to fall on or around May 2, the Eid announcement will light the celebratory touch papers on a three-evening fireworks spectacular at the Yas Bay Waterfront. Formally launching from Yas Marina, the Yas Island sky pyrotechnics are a traditional part of Abu Dhabi’s Eid celebration schedule, and are completely free to see (although you will need to follow the appropriate public health guidelines). We strongly advise you to get some restaurant reservations in now if you want the best seats in the house. And for more information on what’s now open at Yas Bay, check out our guide to the leisure mega project.
A rose between two weekends
Live the luxury life – well, for one night at least – at Rosewood Abu Dhabi. Make the most of being a UAE resident and enjoy 10 per cent off room rates. If you book directly through the site, you can save even more – 15 per cent, that is – and get a complimentary room upgrade and late check out at 1pm. Both of the offers run until the end of the year, so you don’t have to feel the Eid pressure.
Rosewood Abu Dhabi, Al Maryah Island, Abu Dhabi, up to 15 per cent off room rates. Tel: (0)2 813 5550. rosewoodhotels.com
A grand feast from the East
Jing Asia is putting on a nightly dinner on the first, second and third night of Eid (dates depending on the moon sighting) — enjoy regional and international dishes with a little pan-Asian flex.
Crowne Plaza Hotel, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, Yas Plaza Hotels, 7pm to 10pm, Dhs149. Tel: (0)2 656 3000. @jingasiayasisland
Tuesday, May 3
For those that ‘Stan’ a bit of prehistory
A ‘now showing’ Manarat Al Saadiyat exhibition will offer a glimpse of what to expect from the Natural History Museum when it’s eventually completed, including attractions that show what Abu Dhabi was like seven million years ago, a rich and varied landscape of rivers, savanna grasslands and forests. And it’s completely free to visit. There are two core artifacts on display, Stan — a mostly complete 39-foot-long, Dhs117 million, 67 million year old Tyrannosaurus-Rex skeleton — a fossilised relic of the notorious Late Cretaceous apex predator and the ‘Murchison meteorite’ which has been given an estimated age of over seven billion years.
Manarat Al Saadiyat, until May 12, Free. @manaratalsaadiyat
Ain’t no party like a Spa-rty party
To celebrate the dawn of Eid Rixos Premium Saadiyat Island’s luxurious Turkish-Moroccan Anjana Spa has got some wild discounts on treating yourself. Packages start at Dhs400 (4o minutes of massage and masks) or just Dhs650 you get a full 90 minutes of indulgent treatment — a massage, facial and back exfoliation.
Prices valid for Eid only, call (02) 492 2222 to book. @rixospremiumsaadiyat
Eid Mubarak from Barouk
For each of the three nights of Eid, you’ll be able to enjoy haute Lebanese cuisine, musical entertainment and a range of quality shisha at Crowne Plaza Yas Island’s Barouk, with live entertainment from Rima, Mouhamad and Majed.
Yas Island Hotels, Crowne Plaza Hotel, from 7pm, packages start at Dhs150. Tel: (0)2 656 3000. @crowneplazayasisland
We’re sensing a theme here
There is a lot going on at the Yas Island Theme Parks this Eid. In addition to the usual fun — Yas Waterworld has special dance performances and shows, face painting, henna tattoos, roaming traditional musicians, a falcon handler and a live DJ performance. Prefer your thrills a little more high-octane? The Eid additions at Ferrari World include unique Ferrari-inspired shows and an Italian Eid feast. Or head to Warner Bros. World where its not just the heroes that are in spandex, the Ayala dance performers will be hitting this spot too, and because The Batman season is still raging until the end of May, you’ve still got time to tip your hat to the bat.
Oar how about this?
Sea Hawk offers guided kayak tours through some pretty cool locales, but their two-hour trip through the Eastern Mangrove National Park — is possibly their most chill-filled. Navigate through the calming surrounds of the mangrove forest, led by a kind who’s on hand to dish out nuggets of mangrove wisdom as well as prevent you from getting lost in the botanical maze. The price of your trip includes gear rental, water, a fruit salad and a place to clean yourself up after your adventure.
Eastern Mangrove Promenade, Al Salam Street,Sheikh Zayed, Daily trips; 7am, 9am, 11am, 2pm and 4pm, Dhs168. Tel: (02) 673 6688, sea-hawk.ae
It’s not just the sky lighting up for Eid at Yas Island — the stage at Etihad Area will be hosting a series of Arabic music concerts, including Amr Diab (priced from Dhs100) on May 2; and an all-star pairing of Sherine and Kadeem Al Saher (priced from Dhs250) on May 4.
Tickets for the concerts are available now via the etihadarena.ae website.
Recently opened Yas Bay coffee stop, Drop may be a premium bean scene, but there are big reasons foodies will fall in love with Drop too. The menu was created in collaboration with Dubai cheffing legend, Reif Othman — who you may know from a number of hard-to-get-reservations-for dining establishments that include Reif Kushiyaki and Tero by Reif. And for those holding tickets for all of the Etihad Arena Eid concerts mentioned above (Amr Diab on May 2 and the pairing of Sherine and Kadeem Al Saher on May 4), as well as the Abu Dhabi leg of the Maroon 5 World Tour (May 6), and the International Indian Film Academy and Awards weekend (May 20 and 21) — you’ll be able to secure 15 per cent discount on that incredible food range.
Yas Bay, Mon to Fri 8am to 11pm, Sat to Sun 8am to 2am. @wearedropcoffee
Wednesday, May 4
Planting the Eid
For those looking to carry healthy habits into the Eid break, Abu Dhabi’s first permanent five-star vegan brunch is launching at The Abu Dhabi EDITION next week. Taking place at Market at EDITION you’ll find an entirely cruelty-free, plant-based three-course culinary extravaganza with palate highlights of — King Kale Salad, Cauliflower Tabbouleh, Charred Aubergine Steak and Black Rice Pudding. It’s available from Monday to Thursday throughout Eid, and will then move weekly to Sundays from now on. See, it’s not so hard being green.
The Abu Dhabi Edition, Mon to Thu 1pm to 5pm, from Dhs155. Tel: (0)2 208 0000. @abudhabiedition
Safari so good-y
Al Ain Zoo offers some pretty wild opportunities to get close to its impressive collection of animal inhabitants. You can for example, stick your neck out and have breakfast with giraffes (Dhs252); play tug of war with a tiger; there will even be an option to break your fast with the Mufasa this Ramadan, through a very special ‘iftar with the lions’ experience (Dhs840). But if you fancy getting out and seeing animals in a more natural setting, there is a safari encounter available, staged across a 217 hectare stretch of the Savanna-esque scrub-dashed foothills of Jebel Jais. There are a few flexible touring options available, priced from around Dhs210 — aboard either 20-seater safari trucks or private SUVs and your safari guide will be selected from a passionate team of Emiratis with a Wikipedic knowledge of the park’s wildlife.
Al Ain Zoo, safaris 9.30am to 5pm daily (season dependent), from Dhs210 (includes zoo access). Tel: (800) 555, alainzoo.ae
A bit of in-spa-ration
Found on the idyllic shores of Saadiyat Island – this little piece of pampering paradise comes with an indulgent blend of old and new world treatments. You can for example, get involved with a detoxifying and rejuvenating lipocell sculptor session (Dhs770 for 90 minutes), or take part in the time-honoured ritual of ancient Thai massage (Dhs770 for 90 minutes), and their Day Retreat represents excellent value at Dhs1,700. Pro tip: Marriott Bonvoy members (it’s free to join) get 20 per cent off.
The St. Regis Saadiyat Island. Tel: (02) 498 8996, @stregissaadiyatisland